I’ll bet you’ve heard the words “executive presence” more than once in relation to career development. I have experienced it as the most common prerequisite to advancing through the ranks of leadership.
What does presence mean? Your presence is a unique combination of your energy, attitudes, and beliefs that influence your behaviour. Your presence is an inside-out quality you can develop. These qualities come from your deeper self, and they make you unique. Expressing these in how you behave makes you authentic.
There are three major ingredients to your presence:
Grit: Conveying courage, high standards for performance and confidence.
Gravitas: a demonstration of your knowledge and experience.
Grace: a combination of your emotional and relationship awareness and skills.
Grace is the ingredient that boosts your Grit and Gravitas. When you increase your self-awareness, listening, and empathy skills, you will increase the impact of your other good qualities.
These three ingredients project the kind of presence that others will see as leadership qualities. Developing executive presence will strengthen your ability to operate successfully in your political environment, to keep calm, listen actively, and maintain a balance of empathy and healthy boundaries with your stakeholders.
Here are five things you can do to boost your executive presence:
Look at yourself from the perspective of others. Ask those you work with to tell you up to three things that if you did it differently, would make a positive impact on your influence with others. Use the feedback to decide what you can do differently. Asking and using others’ feedback expresses Grace and also can positively impact your Grit and Gravitas.
Listen fully to what others are saying to you. Before you respond, repeat or paraphrase what you heard the other person say. Ensure they nod or agree that you heard them in the way they intended. While paraphrasing may seem burdensome, it pays off in a more fruitful conversation. The other person feels like you get them and you will be better able to influence their thinking. Focused listening is an expression of Grace.
When stress arises, identify your emotions and work them through. Another expression of Grace is the ability to remain calm in the face of challenges. You can then think more clearly and generate other’s trust that you can handle a difficult situation. Your painful emotions can help you clarify what needs you are not on track to meet. Look at your needs to develop options to address the challenge. Don’t blame the situation or other people.
Take action on your commitments. Follow through with your promises. Be certain to let others know when you can’t meet them and renegotiate a win-win solution. Follow-through builds your reputation for reliability and trustworthiness, which is an expression of Gravitas and Grace.
Use questions to get others talking. An essential skill for strong leaders, when you offer challenging questions, you provoke the best thinking of others. Ask questions from a mindset of authentic curiosity. This skill improves your Grit, Grace, and Gravitas!